Daisy Christodoulou at #TLAB13

Grammar: the domain of pedants or necessary and vital for our students?

As an English teacher I have a confession to make… I find teaching grammar really hard. In fact, I’m not sure I do it very well.

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Having listened to Daisy Christodoulou at #TLAB13 I may have to re-think my attitude (trepidation?) and embrace grammar. I want the best outcomes for my students and I need to equip them with the tools they need to express themselves clearly beyond the English classroom.

I found Daisy’s presentation refreshingly honest and simple: grammar matters. We need to teach pupils grammar and, perhaps like Daisy, do that discretely. She argued that what was needed was separate grammar lessons with pupils drilling the skills they needed. I was reminded of my French and German lessons, many years ago, when I learned what grammar I know. That’s what we did then. It worked. So why would I treat grammar teaching in my own language any differently?

As Daisy said:

You can’t do this in a starter activity.

It is important.

It isn’t going to be learnt innately.

It’d be great to think there was a ‘quick fix’ when it comes to grammar, but there clearly isn’t. Again, I’m paraphrasing Daisy: you have to decontextualize and teach the abstract concepts sometimes and sometimes it takes a whole lesson on ‘the verb.’ If we want to help our pupils become better writers, we all need to do our bit and get their grammar right.

Daisy has designed a three-year cycle of grammar lessons. This has been introduced at key stage three. It strikes me that this is exactly what I need to do. KS3 needs to build a solid platform for pupils to succeed, not only in their GCSEs but in their writing generally.

Dare I say it, but my attitude to grammar may be changing. We’ve all got to do things that challenge us and fully embracing grammar might just be my biggest challenge yet!

Some biographical details: Daisy Christodoulou is the Chief Executive Officer at The Curriculum Centre and is TCC’s English Language, English Literature, History and Geography lead. She works at Pimlico Acadamy. She is @daisychristo on Twitter.

2 thoughts on “Daisy Christodoulou at #TLAB13

  1. Interesting post the approach she advocates goes against the popular idea of integrating grammar into literacy lessons. As a primary teacher of year 6 children I have been keen to prepare them for the grammar test. I have integrated grammar wherever I can but that can sometimes be too restrictive as you can’t not always find the context. Furthermore this can squeeze the grammar teaching into too short a time to allow full understanding . I guess there is a parallel with Maths, we would all like to contextualise all of the topics here too. But the reality is that is not always practical or possible.

    • Yes. We’ve looked at the Myhill ‘Grammar for Writing’ approach and were/are contemplating using her schemes in KS3. Listening to Daisy’s approach made me think we possibly need to do both. Contextualise where we can but drill the basic ‘tools’ so pupils understand them as the mechanics of language. Much food for thought!

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